Do you wish to connect with influencers in your niche? Many approach it the wrong way. Forming a relationship with local influencers is something you need to get right. Well, it’s among the best ways to grow your audience and brand. And hopefully, you’ll wind up with a few new friends too. You may even damage your blog and your brand. Before I dig into specific methods for connecting with influencers, let’s get clear about what not to do.
The Incorrect Way to Approach Influencers
Getting to know influencers is not about using ‘a system’ or ‘formula’ to make connections. Tools are available that allow you to set up a sequence of emails to influencers, which are subsequently triggered automatically based on whether the influencer opens your messages. And they all promise to save you time or provide you with great results.
If your blog is reasonably large, you might well have been on the receiving end of some of these yourself. I get ten or so of them every day, and some influencers I’ve talked to secure more than 100 a day. Do not use these tools. They cost quite a lot, and influencers at all levels will have observed the boilerplate messages from these engines time and time again (often with their name misspelled or omitted) — no prizes for guessing what happens to those emails.
They’re usually ignored and deleted. And I’m sure you can understand why. The sad thing is, most people using these expensive tools to send their emails have great intentions. They’re good people. But they are potentially hurting their brand. So let me share some strategies for reaching out to an influencer that will provide you with much stronger results.
Tip #1: Don’t get frustrated if they don’t answer
As you can imagine, they get a good deal of approaches and have a lot of interactions every day. They might have hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of social media connections, so they can not respond to everyone. Don’t let this put you off. Make the strategy anyway, and attempt to build a relationship. Just ensure you have realistic expectations and don’t be upset if someone doesn’t get back to you. (Never strike them or call them out on Twitter / Facebook for not writing again. That’s the fastest way to kill any chance of a connection.)
Tip #2: Do not turn into a stalker
All I am sharing in this blog post is about being useful: assisting influencers to achieve what they desire and looking for a win-win situation. So be enthusiastic and reach out, but do not overstep limits. This is particularly important when it comes to offline interaction. For instance, sending someone, a gift may be a beautiful, welcome gesture. But do not choose something expensive, overly personal or potentially offensive. A movie star I follow said they were starting a website, so I presented them a free copy of my book. They enjoyed that I noticed they were beginning a site when most other people had not.
They may check out your site, or have a look at you on social media. You need your online presence to show that you’re genuine and credible. Showcase your expertise if possible. However, even if you don’t have any experience or many followers or followers yet, there is still quite a lot you can do. For example, do you cry all the time on Facebook? Or do you discuss topics that influencers in your market will have an interest in? Even if you don’t have that many followers yet, tweet as if you do. The same applies to your blog. Make sure it appears professional and finished.
Hint #4: Learn about the best place to connect
Some influencers will inform you about the best way to contact them on their contact page. However, with others, you may need to do a little digging. For example, they might have lots of social media accounts, but just one or two they use. I have a lot of social networking reports, but there are a few I don’t use many (such as Instagram).
I communicate more on Facebook, and so that’s a fantastic place to strike up a relationship with me. But that’s just me. Other influencers may be far more active on Instagram or Twitter. So it is worth looking at their social media accounts to see where they appear to be active.
Tip #5: Help them to create engagement with their content
Most social media influencers want engagement leading to some sort of conversion, such as a reader buying a product from them. The majority of them are also actively generating content. You can help them get the involvement they are after. For instance, if they compose blog articles or publish videos, then you can comment on these. Don’t just say something like “Good post.” Be personal, constructive, on point, add value. If they’ve been asked a particular question, answer it.
Hint #6: Help them to build their community
This applies not only to their own blog but also to the social networks they use. For instance, at a Facebook group, you may welcome new members who’ve submitted for the first time to present themselves. If it’s a Twitter account, you might make a bid to ask questions and respond to other folks that are chatting.
(The people you connect with through remarks may also become friends or useful contacts for you.) But be careful you do not go too far. You do not want people thinking you are trying to take over the community. In case you’ve got the time and inclination to help out a lot, speak to the influencer and subtly ask if you can serve them as a volunteer.
Tip #7: Help them grow their audience even bigger
You may also ask if they’re interested in being interviewed on your blog. If they don’t have enough time, you may consider composing a case study on them. Another good way to be of help is when you guest post on a larger blog, link to the influencer with that post. A couple of years ago, a blogger I’ve never heard of, composed an article for a prominent business publication that sent me a huge quantity of traffic. Do not discount the offline world. If you are giving a talk, you could mention the influencer. Individuals may well tweet them to let them know. You might even approach the mainstream media. Back when I had just begun Digital Photography School, a reader who liked the blog emailed the New York Times, who subsequently asked to interview me.
Tip #8: Help them sell more
If the influencer offers something for sale (and most do), start looking for ways to help them sell more of it. That may mean becoming an affiliate, reviewing their product (or service), or recommending it on social media. A great way to go further would be to send them a testimonial. This is really valuable to them, because they may use it on their sales page. (When they have a podcast, send them an audio testimonial.
Tip #9: Assist them in creating content
The vast majority of influencers are generating some sort of content (video/text/ photos). And you may help them with that. Maybe you have an idea for a blog post they could write. You might even think of a title and some crucial points they could cover. Or you may send them a list of questions you’d love to see them write about. When they have a podcast, maybe they welcome listed questions or comments. If you are good at layout, you can create a picture they could share to market among the articles.
There are many options, so think about what they might find helpful and how you could help. Another possibility here is to assist with research. Inform them about a new study or some data they may find useful. You can even help with editing. Drop them a polite, personal email if you spot an error in their content, a spelling mistake, a broken link or similar. (But not call them out on those in public.)
Tip #10: Look for specific times when you may be of help
There are certain times when influencers will want something concrete and time sensitive, perhaps within another week or month. For instance, are you currently launching a brand new book, product or service? Are they encouraging a not-for-profit project? Are they exploring a new social networking channel, where they wish to get more grip (e.g., launching a YouTube accounts )?
When influencers are beginning new things or promoting something special, they’re busier than average. But do not let that repel you, from contacting them since they’re often very much open to being approached, especially if you can help them achieve the results they are looking for.
Tip #11: Engage with them on a human level
Influencers are normal people (genuine flesh and bones). Same as you, they have better days and worse days. They also have issues and difficulties of their own. If they’re passing the time on Twitter or blowing off steam by sharing some fun, a well-planned joke or a cute GIF or meme can help you connect on a personal level.
Tip #12: Build the relationships before you need it
I get a whole lot of requests from the blue from people I have never heard of before. While I am open to reacting and even working with them regardless, the truth is I’m much more likely to want to associate with and help someone I believe I already met. It’s not the best idea to begin your connection by begging for a favor.
Be honest about willing to help and connect with that influencer, yet don’t get too hung up on where you were expecting something to go. Many times I have approached people with something in mind, and something else entirely has come from the interaction. I recommend you make your approach honest and natural. And, if that influencer didn’t respond, don’t take offense.
You may politely follow up or simply move on to someone else who may have more time to form a relationship.I’d like to hear your own strategies for getting to know influencers in your specialty. What have you tried that is worked? What exactly are you planning to do next, or do differently? Share your ideas in the comments below.